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U.S. Republican vice presidential hopeful Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan greets supporters during a campaign rally at Waukesha County Expo Center in Waukesha, Wisc., Aug. 12, 2012. Political stars have a way of driving business. What impact will Ryan’s passion for fitness and outdoor activities have in the marketplace?

Kai Ryssdal: Congressman Ryan is young-ish, as I mentioned. And his musical tastes run in that direction. He's apparently a fan of Rage Against the Machine, the hard rock band known for lyrics criticizing capitalism and supporting a grab bag of leftist causes. Not what you'd expect to be on the playlist of a Republican vice presidential nominee.

But be that as it may, will there be a Paul Ryan effect on the bands sales? Or on other products he's known to favor?

Before you pooh-pooh that idea, take a listen to our man in New York, Mark Garrison.


Mark Garrison: Bill Batchelder, fourth-generation co-owner of Bemidji Woolen Mills, knows how a candidate’s taste can drive business. Rick Santorum didn’t win the Republican nomination, but he did hire Batchelder’s company to make branded sweater vests. The publicity meant more work for employees, Batchelder told me from the factory floor.

Bill Batchelder: Any of our seamstresses that want to come in and work a little bit of overtime, that’s been put on the table.

It’s not fashion, but fitness that’s getting Paul Ryan attention. He’s such a fan of the popular P90X workout routine that he leads classes in it at the congressional gym. Carl Daikeler is CEO of Beachbody, which sells the P90X packages. They cost up to $330.

Carl Daikeler: Any bit of extra awareness that you get or credibility from somebody prominent using your product helps.

But another of Ryan’s sporting pursuits will be a tougher sell.

That’s from an Animal Planet show on noodling, where people catch catfish, giant ones, using their hands as bait. Mark Morgan is a University of Missouri professor who has studied noodling. The colorful, obscure sport is not what people expect for a Congressman.

Mark Morgan: I thought you were like a, you know, Republican, intellectual, budget shaver, and now you’re thinking about noodling. It’s like, ewww.

Not for everyone. But, as veteran Oklahoma noodler Bobby Leon Sparks told me, noodling’s small size means the sport will feel the impact even if Ryan only inspires a few new noodlers.

I'm Mark Garrison for Marketplace.

About the author

Mark Garrison is a reporter and substitute host for Marketplace, based in New York.

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